Yoshihiro Kawasaki

Born in Kobe. Kawasaki has worked as an audio operator at sound studios since 1980. After that, he began audio system planning and design. His activities include recording foreign artists, producing soundscapes, sound design, all of which are involved in the creation of sound environments.
Kawasaki is currently interested in the creation of new sound for spaces, and is currently doing a lot of things in the area of new media. Kawasaki's roles include being a representative for NADI, a sound design lab; a director of program production at St. GIGA, a digital satellite radio channel; chairman of Association of Japan Soundscape; and a member of Kyoto International Forum Planning Committee. He has also contributed his sound works to sensorium, and they can be accessed through the World Ear section of Senseware. Kawasaki lives in Kobe.

Why did we interview Kawasaki to "sense" Japan?

Nada Ward, Kobe. Behind Kawasaki's home, there is a shrine with a thicket. The main building of the shrine, which was damaged by the Great Hanshin Quake, is now under construction. However, nature still continues on its inexorable course. Green leaves sprout on trees and birds herald spring.
"I heard that many trees were felled about 30 years ago, which was bad, wasn't it? I want people to understand we need views with green in them."

Kawasaki used to sit in the shrine and listen to the sound. While it was a form of play for him, it was also a formative experience for him in becoming a sound designer.

In his soundscape, carefully listening to each sound and realizing their individual differences, differences that we in our normal lives never hear. A ship's whistle from far away, voices from the primary school yard, birds in trees singing near him, a railway crossing signal, somebody's footsteps... Keeping in mind Kawasaki's words, I closed my eyes and concentrated on the sounds. Then I began to understand the richness of the world of sound that up to then I had been ignorant of.

"I can hear the sounds of the city in unison, too. Taruho Inagaki said the same thing. This is the sound of Kobe."

At small shrine destroyed by the Quake. In the background of photo is a camphor tree that has been alive for more than 100 years.

"When I go to Yakushima Island to record sounds, I feel that my "hearing" improves. Perhaps it's like what I have heard of Mongolians, who have excellent eyesight in their land of wide open spaces. When I'm surrounded by nature, I can hear the slightest of sounds, or sounds from far away. At the same time, I am also passive in the sense that I am listening to the sound, although I actively concentrating on or collecting the sound. I become totally engrossed in what I am doing."

"My work is similar to a photographer's. I approach places through various viewpoints, and build up an image through what I record: it is like my memories of the place. To produce this image, this sound work, I decide where to record, how to position and arrange the equipment, and the best time to record. This time-axis for the work might be the same as a photographer's."

"When I concentrate on listening to sound, I no longer hear with just my ears. Instead, I begin to use senses like touch and sight, in fact, all of my five senses begin to work as one. I can even feel the air with this one sense. I become as one with everything, all things are equal."

[Recent works]

Recording and cutting by St. GIGA
Planning and marketing by Japan Music Education Center
Production by FOA RECORDS
Recording cooperation by Yoshihiro Kawasaki of Nadi
Planning and production by DIZAIN Inc.
Published by Ishii Inc.
Marketing by DYNAWARE Co.
Kyo-no-hana (Essence of Kyoto)
Photographs by Katsutoshi Okada
Sound by Yoshihiro Kawasaki
Planning and production by DIZAIN Inc.
Published by Ishii Inc.
Marketing by DYNAWARE Co.
St. GIGA Sounds of the Earth Series
Sunrise in the Morning Forest: Shiretoko /Sunset: Gradual Change of the Evening, Yaeyama Islands
Night and Moon: Full-Moon Mystique, Bali Island / Rain Forest and Surf: Robinson Crusoe's Island / etc..
Planning and production by Yoshihiro Kawasaki, Kazuo Nogawa, St. GIGA
Marketing by Toshiba EMI Co. Ltd.
Gakken Reading Tape Series: Midnight Friends / An Acorn and a Wildcat / etc..
Production by Sound Designers Union
Direction and Mixing by Yoshihiro Kawasaki
Recorded at St. GIGA studio

Why did we interview Kawasaki to "sense" Japan?

This section also includes the sounds Kawasaki recorded in Yakushima Island in March. He stayed there for 10 days, and from the morning to the evening covered the island with a guide. When I met him, his work was close to finishing. He was leaving to go to Shiratani Unsui Valley the next day. He was planning to stay at a cottage in the night and record the sounds of the mountains in the morning.

Climbing with Kawasaki was great fun. When we climbed a mountain and looked out over a magnificent landscape, we would stop, inhale deeply, and say, "What a wonderful view!" Kawasaki would also stop often, and not necessarily at scenic points, but would just stop, eyes closed and mutter, "Wonderful sound."

We collect 90% of our information from sight. When discussing multimedia, we often discussed the importance of equality within contents. When you close your eyes and open up those senses we underuse in our day-to-day lives, how rich the experience of living becomes! When I closed my eyes, there was a multitude of rich and mysterious sounds in the forest.

Sometime I realized that Kawasaki was listening to not only what I was saying but also to sounds from the kitchen, somebody sitting a little bit away turning the page of a book: he was listening to an invisible complete sound scene. His listening ability is extraordinary. However, we may all have this same ability, but we just do not know how to use it. I open the window, and close my eyes. I hear the sound somebody is preparing dinner, far, far away.
(sensorium staff, NISH)

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